DVMD Focus on 25.02.2021: Lecture on the part-time Master’s program in Medical Data Science at RWTH Aachen University

image source: © istockphoto.com/Jovanmandic

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the development of new courses of study as part of the Medical Informatics Initiative to thus enabling the digital transformation of the healthcare sector to take place and to be staffed with qualified personnel.

In this context, the Medical Faculty of RWTH Aachen University, in cooperation with the RWTH International Academy, has been offering the Master’s program in Medical Data Science in a blended learning format at the SMITH location in Aachen since the winter semester 2020/21.

In the first session of its new event series “DMVD Fokus”, the Professional Association for Documentation and Information Management in Medicine (DVMD) will thematize the development of new courses of study to attract specialists for the digital transformation in healthcare. On February 25, 2021, a number of concepts will be presented under the title “Innovative Concepts for Online-Based Teaching”, including the Medical Data Science degree program at RWTH Aachen University:

Date: 25.02.2021 | 05:00 pm

Title: Part-time Master in Medical Data Science – a SMITH Consortium degree program in blended learning format.


  • Dr. Ulrike Schemmann – Head of the Department of Education in Medical Informatics, Teaching Coordinator SMITH | Institute of Medical Informatics | Uniklinik RWTH Aachen
  • Prof. Dr. Rainer Röhrig – Director of the Institute for Medical Informatics | Uniklinik RWTH Aachen
  • Prof. Dr. Cord Spreckelsen – Professor of Medical Informatics | Institute of Medical Statistics, Computer Science and Data Sciences (IMSID) | University Hospital Jena

More information about the lecture can be found here.

Further information events on the Medical Data Science program at RWTH Aachen University:

In regular online info events, Prof. Dr. med. Rainer Röhrig (scientific director) and Dr. Ulrike Schemmann (teaching coordinator) present the structure and contents of the part-time master’s program “Medical Data Science”. All dates and access data can be found on the website of the study program.

Improved analysis of treatment data in medical research | New software makes FHIR resources accessible for statistical software

© istockphoto.com/wutwhanfoto

12/14/2020. The HL7 FHIR standard data format defined by the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) is ideally suited for interoperable data exchange and storage. The possibilities for statistical analysis, on the other hand, are limited. To ensure improved analysis of treatment data, the fhircrackr software was developed as part of the MII Use Case POLAR by the University of Leipzig and the University Hospital Jena, which are members of the SMITH consortium.

The Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) is working with numerous partners to make routinely collected treatment data from healthcare usable for medical research. For this purpose, the MII has agreed on the data format HL7 FHIR Standard for the implementation of the core data set. This is a format that processes heterogeneous data in an interoperable manner, i.e. seamlessly merges them. FHIR data are optimally adapted for the interoperable exchange and storage of medical data. However, they are less suitable for statistical analysis. The FHIR standard stores data in individual, nested and interlinked resources, rather than in tabular structures. Common statistical methods rely precisely on these structures.

To solve the problem, the software fhircrackr was developed as part of the MII Use Case POLAR by the University of Leipzig and the University Hospital Jena, which are members of the SMITH consortium. fhircrackr allows the user to access a FHIR server using the statistical software and programming language R and to download data from there. The downloaded data can then be converted into tabular form and processed for statistical analysis. In the POLAR use case, which deals with health risks in patients with polymedication, medication data available in FHIR can thus be derived from the data integration centers (DIZ) and converted into tables by fhircrackr. On this basis, arbitrary aggregations of the data are possible.

hircrackr was first published on CRAN (Comprehensive R Archive Network) in July 2020. CRAN is a public online archive for R packages that tests and makes package code freely available. In addition, fhircrackr is being developed open source under the software management service Github. As one of the first solutions for transforming FHIR data into tables, this has been very well received throughout the MII and will be used equally in SMITH use cases such as HELP and PHEP and cross-cutting use cases such as POLAR and CORD.

Related links:

CRAN: https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/fhircrackr/index.html
Github: https://github.com/POLAR-fhiR/fhircrackr

Targeted antibiotic therapy | SMITH-Consortium starts HELP Study at Jena University Hospital

09/08/2020. The HELP App developed by the SMITH-Consortium provides medical personnel rapid information and recommendations for responsible antibiotic therapy in staphylococcal bloodstream infections. The HELP App was implemented as part of the study in mid-August at the University Hospital Jena (UKJ) and will be used at four additional participating university hospitals by the end of the year.

Any use of antibiotics can promote the development of resistance. It is therefore important to use antibiotics in a targeted and responsible manner in order to limit overuse and under-use. The focus is the balance between an appropriate reduction of antibiotics and their timely use.

A prime example of this is bloodstream infections, which are a widespread problem in hospitals. Bloodstream infections including sepsis are one of the greatest challenges for diagnostics and therapy. Unjustified antibiotics usage promotes the development of resistance and in turn increases the risk of drug-related side effects.

The mobile application HELP of the SMITH-Consortium serves as a digital manual for the treatment of patients with a positive staphylococci blood culture. In accordance with guidelines, the app provides the treating physicians with information on the next diagnostic and therapeutic steps and thus facilitates the work of infectious disease specialists in normal and intensive care units. In addition to a direct improvement in patient care, it also contributes indirectly to the prevention of antibiotic-related multidrug resistance and to the optimization of inpatient consultation by infectiologists. The data required for the study will be provided by the participating data integration centers (DIC) in an interoperable data format based on FHIR and the core data set of the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII). The MII decided that the the international HL7 standard FHIR would be the data format in July 2019.

The university hospitals in Aachen, Essen, Halle, Jena and Leipzig are participating in the study. In the course of the study, the HELP App will be used in additional university hospitals. The SMITH-Locations Leipzig and Aachen will be integrated into the study next.

German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) pledges support to SMITH-Consortium

10.07.2020. The German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) promotes practical as well as scientific progress in intensive and emergency medicine. With the Use Case ASIC, the SMITH consortium makes an important contribution to this. In a Letter of Intent, DIVI now confirms its interest in a cooperation.

Cooperative and interdisciplinary communication is the basis for strong partnership and cooperation. An active exchange of knowledge benefits the specialist disciplines and thus the patient. With the Use Case ASIC, the SMITH consortium promotes the improvement of patient care by using already existing clinical routine data. This is to be demonstrated using the example of the therapy of patients with acute lung failure, or ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), a disease that still kills about 40 percent of all patients today. In addition, many of the corona patients receiving intensive care suffer from ARDS during treatment, although numerous monitoring systems continuously monitor the patients’ most important vital functions. Especially the early forms of ARDS are often only detected when the lung function has further deteriorated.

The ASIC App, developed as part of the Use Case ASIC, counteracts this by ensuring continuous electronic monitoring of relevant ventilation parameters and alerting the attending physicians to potential ARDS even before the patient’s condition has changed critically. With an earlier diagnosis and a therapy in line with guidelines, valuable time in the treatment of patients can be gained, which can save more lives.

The German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI) focuses on science, practice and research in intensive and emergency medicine and has now officially expressed its support for SMITH in a letter of intent. With the automation of intensive care monitoring, the SMITH Consortium’s Use Case ASIC makes a decisive contribution to quality assurance in intensive care medicine.

Further information on the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine can be found here.

Use of the ASIC App is being expanded to intensive care units

07/01/2020. Almost one year after the start of the control phase, the quality approvement strategy in the ASIC Use Case of the SMITH Consortium has been launched. For this the ASIC App will now be made available and used step by step on all participating intensive care units.

The focus of the Use Case ASIC is on intensive care patients with acute lung failure (ARDS – acute respiratory distress syndrome), a disease that still kills about 40 percent of all patients. The aim is to make the diagnosis as quickly as possible by using already documented, routine clinical data and to achieve better treatment by following the recommendations of relevant guidelines. 

Ventilation parameters are taken from the patient data management system via the ASIC App and examined for the potential presence of ARDS. Suspected cases of ARDS are immediately reported to the treating intensive care physicians via the ASIC app, which is certified as a medical device. This enables an early diagnostic and therapeutic reaction of the treating physicians. If the criteria are met after medical review and the information are confirmed, the app displays the respective severity and the relevant guideline-based therapy recommendations. 

Today, the Clinic for Operative Intensive Medicine and Intermediate Care of the University Hospital RWTH Aachen was the first department to successfully launch the app. The response of the medical colleagues in the intensive care units are consistently positive and acceptance is high. In the course of the next months the next SMITH project partners will start using the ASIC App. This includes the university hospitals of Bonn, Düsseldorf, Halle, Hamburg, Jena, Leipzig and Rostock.

Data-based early detection of acute lung failure | ASIC App obtains CE marking as medical device

05/19/2020. The early detection app for the clinical use case ASIC of the SMITH consortium has obtained the CE certification. The application is therefore considered a class 1 medical device and can contribute to the early detection of acute lung failure.

picture source: © Uniklinik RWTH Aachen/OIM

Intensive care medicine is a medical field in which the largest amounts of patient care data is generated and usually saved digitally. The usage of this existing clinical routine data and its structured, systematic analysis can improve patient care. This is demonstrated by the clinical use case Algorithmic Surveillance on ICU Patients (ASIC) implemented by the SMITH consortium. In ASIC the value of big data analysis is shown by the therapy of patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Although there are clear criteria for the existence of an ARDS, it is often difficult to diagnose. In order to support physicians in early detection, the ASIC app was developed for iOS and Android-based devices within the scope of the use case. The mobile application ensures continuous electronic monitoring of the relevant ventilation parameters of intensive care patients. In the case of clinical deterioration, the app provides the relevant data for all affected patients and enables a patient-related, process-controlled, actual determination of ARDS based on guideline-compliant criteria and subsequent therapy recommendations. The obedience of these recommendations can significantly improve the outcome of the treatment of these patients.

After a development and test phase of two years, the app now officially bears the legal CE mark, making it the first successfully certified Class I medical device in the medical informatics initiative. A technical connection to already existing clinical and administrative systems in patient data management and thus the integration into clinical routine is planned at eight university medical locations within the SMITH consortium.

RWTH Aachen International Academy supports young scientists | Scholarship announcement within the Master’s program Medical Data Science

04/09/2020. For the start of the postgraduate, part-time and inter-professional study program “Master of Science in Medical Data Science (M.Sc.)” on September 29, 2020, RWTH Aachen International Academy is announcing two scholarship offers for the promotion of young scientists. 

The program aims to train specialists who have expertise at the interface of medicine and computer science both in data science and in interprofessional communication in health research and healthcare. It is aimed at graduates of a degree program in medicine and life sciences as well as graduates from the fields of computer science, mathematics and natural sciences with specific (medical informatics) professional experience. 

The funding is intended to support young academics at the beginning of their professional career. The prerequisite for funding is a maximum of 3 years of professional experience. The scholarships are awarded by a selection committee. The award decision is primarily made based on achievements in the first degree course and the type and content of relevant professional experience.

The financial support includes a 50 percent reduction in tuition fees (scholarship amount: 13,300 Euro). The deadline for submitting the complete application documents and the application for the scholarship is May 30, 2020.

Further information on the admission requirements and the course of study Medical Data Science M. Sc. can be found here: www.master-medical-data-science.de

Contact us: RWTH Aachen International Academy | E-Mail: mds@academy.rwth-aachen.de

SMITH-Consortium Hosts three-day FHIR Workshop

02/20/2020. In July 2019, the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII) decided to use the international HL7 standard FHIR to implement the core data set of the MII. The uniform format simplifies exchanging data between healthcare software systems and provides uniform data for medical research.

The SMITH Consortium conducted a MII-workshop on February 11th to 13th, 2020, at the University Hospital Jena to introduce FHIR and how it can be used. Scientific and industrial specialists shared their knowledge with 25 participants concerning the technical and organisational requirements to exchange data with other institutions.

Dr. Danny Ammon, director of the data integration center of the University Hospital Jena, introduced the interoperability standards in healthcare and why it is needed and the implementation, development, and profiling of these standards. Next, Dr. Frank Meineke and Sebastian Stäubert of the Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics and Epidemiology of the University Leipzig elucidated the phases of a Data Use Project (DUP) and the development of a clinical question to a completed analysis.

In a later training session, Dr. Kutaiba Saleh of the University Hospital Jena illustrated how to use the software ART-DECOR to prepare data and use it in DUPs. Simone Heckmann of Gefyra GmbH introduced the HL7 and FHIR in the next session.  Here the topics covered were the terminology and application of the specification, resources, profiling and the implementation of interoperability in healthcare. Finally, Prof. Dr. Cord Spreckelsen of the Institute of Medical Statistics, Computer and Data Sciences (IMSID) of UKJ, Julia Gantner (IMSID) and  Thomas Nitzsche (InterSystems GmbH) demonstrated using SQL databases to extract data, the analysis of statistic data and the use of analysis functions respectively. The Teaching Working Group of the SMITH Consortium organized this workshop.

SMITH organizes partner dialogue meeting

On Friday, February 6th, 2020, the SMITH consortium held the first partner dialogue meeting for non-university hospitals and medical networks. In an open exchange between around 80 participants from hospitals, medical networks, associations and industrial partners, the opportunities, which result from a collaborative partnership, were discussed.

Improved health services research, faster transfer from research to health care, long-term improvement of diagnosis, prevention and therapy and thus increased attractiveness for physicians in hospitals and medical networks are important added values ​​that result from the cooperation with SMITH.

In short lectures, the representatives of the consortium presented the structure of the data integration centers, the data protection aspects, the added value of the three use cases, the SMITH service platform and the range of solutions for transferring the SMITH architecture to the needs of the non-university sector.

Jochen Brink, President of the Hospital Association of North Rhine-Westphalia (KGNW), spoke about the requirements for a collaboration from the hospitals perspective. The KGNW expressly supports an equal partnership and an operating model adapted to the technological, organizational and economic framework of the regional hospitals.

The in-depth final discussion with all participants showed the importance of an effective cooperation between partners to realize the opportunities of personalized medicine for patients and service providers.

A continuation of the partner dialogue is planned for September this year, in which the focus will be on the perspective of hospitals and medical networks.

The speakers’ presentation slides at a glance:

Start of part-time, postgraduate study program “eHealth & Communication (M.Sc.)” at FSU Jena | Application deadline ends on February 15, 2020


On April 1, 2020 the new part-time master’s program “eHealth & Communication” starts at the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena. The interdisciplinary course combines medicine, computer science, public health and communication sciences. It equips to shape digitalization in the healthcare sector by scientifically well-founded use of eHealth technologies. The main focus is on the development and reflection of communication skills in the context of digitized medicine.

The current application deadline is February 15, 2020.

Further information:
E-Mail: master-ehealth@uni-jena.de
Web: www.master-ehealth.uni-jena.de

picture source: © Universitätsklinikum Jena